Hyperemesis & Top 10 Things Not To Say To A HG Woman

**Update 12/5/2012: Unfortunately, I lost my baby last month at the beginning of my second trimester. It is very hard for me to deal with the fact that I went through all of this with no reward in the end. I am keeping this post up, to educate the public on what women go through who suffer with Hyperemesis.**

Hello all. If you've been checking in with me on Facebook, you know where I've been for the past couple of months. If not, well, I thought I should write a post to update you all.

We are expecting baby # 2, and while for most people this begins one of the best times of their life, for me it begins the worst. During my pregnancies, I suffer from a rare condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum, this disease affects less than 2% of pregnant women.. The definition of this disease: "HG is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids, with adverse consequences for the newborn."

Now you may be thinking, "Oh, you mean morning sickness."

No. Hyperemesis is more than morning sickness, and cannot even be compared. Besides extreme weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, and depression, HG can lead to renal failure and death. It can become so unbearable and life threatening, that some women opt to terminate their pregnancy just to end their misery or protect their own health. To elaborate, I will try to explain my experience.

Since we knew about my HG in advance this time around, my doctor prescribed the usual anti-nausea medication for me, hoping early treatment would curb it. It didn't. The unrelenting nausea and constant vomiting began, but since I was still keeping some fluids down, I made myself suffer through it. I did this for 4 weeks, completely bed-ridden and unable to care for my child or even myself.

Anything was a trigger. Light, sound, smells (of course), motion, air moving across my face, even my son's hugs. Do you know how awful it feels to not even be able to tolerate your child putting his arms around you, or kissing you on the cheek?

As usual, it progressed and became worse. I lost an additional 10 pounds in 2 weeks, was vomiting hourly (NOT an exaggeration) and was pretty much just a pathetic lump crying convulsively on the bathroom floor.

Finally, my Dr ordered home health care and a Zofran pump for me to manage my condition, but since it was the weekend I had to wait for my insurance to authorize it. Gotta love insurance companies. When I finally got the go-ahead, I had not kept a single drop of liquid or any food down for 3 days.

My medical supplies were delivered and the home health nurse came out to get me set up. She had me pee on a stick to test my ketones and level of dehydration. When you have no nutrition for a period of time, toxins build up in your system and cause ketosis. Apparently I was off the charts at the highest level you can be.

Go figure.

She hooked up my IV, then showed me how my pump worked and how to change my infusion site.

Yes, I have to stab myself in the abdomen every other day. Actually, my husband does it. I'm too chicken. A nurse calls me every morning to get my ketone levels, log my weight, food intake and check on me.

The Zofran pump holds a syringe of my medicine, which is attached to a catheter that is inserted into my abdomen, this delivers a continuous dose to me throughout the day. I have to alternate the infusion site every couple of days, since the medicine is really irritating to the skin and causes redness and hard lumps.

After several days on the pump things began to get a little better. The vomiting episodes reduced, so instead of 20+ times a day, I was down to 5. I could keep tiny bites of only a few foods down, spread out throughout the day, and a bit of liquid. The nausea never improved, so the doctor upped my dosage and added in a supplemental anti nausea medication.

Here's my set up:

So as you can see, I've not been post-writing-worthy, or food-making-capable for a while. But things are looking up. If you know someone who has suffered from this disease or would like to learn more about it, go to www.helpher.org. It has tons of information and great resources. Not enough is known about HG yet, so more research is being done all the time.

For a bit of comic relief, here are the Top 10 Things Not To Say To A HG Woman. If you've had HG, I know you can relate. :)

10. Being sick is a sign of a healthy pregnancy
9. Don't be such a drama queen, perhaps you should see a psychiatrist
8. Take a shower and then take a walk outside
7. You should feel better by now, it's been 3 months
6. Eat lots of small meals daily
5. Think positive, it's mind over matter
4. Try seabands
3. You should try ginger
2. Eat some crackers

and the #1 thing not to say to an HG woman is...

1. Oh, I was sick too when I was pregnant too!

If you have been guilty of saying one of these phrases to an HG woman, than you need to educate yourself about HG. Education is power and HG women need their family, friends, doctors and nurses to educate themselves about this horrific pregnancy condition. Research has proven HG is not a "mind over matter" issue it is a physiological condition of pregnancy.

So the next time you come across a woman who has Hyperemesis...please don't suggest she eat crackers. She may just punch you in the face - after she pukes all over you of course.. :)


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